To be sincere, Kentucky wasn’t all the time on my journey radar. Like many individuals unfamiliar with the Bluegrass State, I beforehand had plenty of assumptions about it. Nonetheless, the state is far more than meets the attention, and it’s dwelling to some unbelievable locations. This listing breaks down the perfect, together with fantastic cities, neat cities, lovely parks, distinctive stops, and extra:
Cities & Cities
As Kentucky’s largest metropolis, Louisville is a hub for almost all the things that makes this state particular. You’ll discover numerous venues to see dwell bluegrass reveals, race tracks with the nation’s most spectacular horses, and a few superb Southern cooking. Not solely that, however Louisville is bursting with tradition and has a thriving artwork neighborhood.
Listed below are just a few must-visit spots on this vibrant metropolis:
39. Frankfort Avenue
So far as locations to go in Louisville, this is among the greatest to take a look at as quickly as you get into city. Frankfort Avenue, aka “The Avenue,” is a protracted hall that connects the town’s most hip and taking place neighborhoods. Alongside it, you’ll see native companies galore, from boutiques to galleries to mother ‘n’ pop eating places.
38. Fairmount Falls Park
On the outskirts of Louisville is Fairmount Falls, one of many metropolis’s hidden pure gems. Visiting appears like discovering a Louisville secret that not many different vacationers get to expertise. The waterfall is tucked away within the forest, a couple of mile’s hike from the path entrance.
To get to this beautiful waterfall, you may make a reservation to access the park at Jefferson Memorial Forest Welcome Center. Since solely three automobiles are allowed within the park per day, a reservation almost ensures you’ll have the falls virtually all to your self.
37. Churchill Downs
Churchill Downs is as well-known because it will get in terms of Louisville establishments. The 2 longest repeatedly operating sporting occasions within the US are held at Churchill Downs: the Kentucky Derby and the all-female Kentucky Oaks races. Even should you aren’t on the town throughout a type of, examine the events calendar to see what else is occurring on the race observe throughout your go to.
36. Muhammad Ali Heart
The well-known boxer-turned-philanthropist Muhammad Ali is a Louisville native and positively engenders a beneficiant quantity of hometown pleasure. Opened in 2005, the Muhammad Ali Heart is a nonprofit museum that serves to exhibit Ali’s six core ideas: confidence, conviction, dedication, giving, respect, and spirituality. It’s one of the vital inspirational museums in Kentucky. Discover extra info here.
35. Louisville Mega Cavern
Journey seekers won’t need to miss out on a go to to the Louisville Mega Cavern, the world’s solely absolutely underground aerial ropes course. This former Thirties mine website has 100 acres (a part of a citywide 17 mile array of underground corridors) that you could discover by way of Historic Tram Tour or walking tour, on which you’ll be able to be taught concerning the historical past and geology of the caverns. This is among the high locations to see in all of Kentucky, not to mention Louisville!
34. Cherokee Park
Do you know that Frederick Legislation Olmsted, who designed NYC’s Central Park, additionally designed Cherokee Park in Louisville? It’s true! His eye for design is clear within the Park, which options quaint woodlands, open meadows, rolling hills, and trickling streams. That’s proper, you may take pleasure in all of that pure magnificence with out having to go away Louisville’s metropolis limits.
Lexington is Kentucky’s second largest metropolis and is spilling over with historical past, Southern appeal, and distinctive locations to go to. Because the nation’s horse capital, you’ll discover a great deal of alternatives to be taught concerning the metropolis’s horse racing and breeding legacy. Not solely that however Lexington is within the coronary heart of bluegrass nation and packs a giant punch with its wealthy bourbon tradition.
Listed below are among the greatest locations to go to in or close to Lexington:
32. Keeneland Race Observe
Keeneland is an internationally famend racecourse dedicated to preserving the custom of thoroughbred horse racing. The observe is open to the general public, so that you don’t must attend an precise race to absorb its superbly landscaped gardens and pristine grandstand. The place captures the essence of horse racing tradition and status. This tour includes a stop at Keeneland with an professional information.
31. Ashland: Henry Clay Property
So far as historic locations in Kentucky, that is simply one of the vital well-known. Henry Clay was considered one of Kentucky’s most well-known statesmen, and Ashland was his dwelling in the course of the top of his profession. The Henry Clay Memorial Basis has an fascinating approach of telling the tales of people that lived, labored, and have been enslaved on the Ashland property. This guided tour is an effective way to get essentially the most out of your go to.
30. Kentucky Horse Park
If you happen to can’t get sufficient of horse-related points of interest, Kentucky Horse Park is the last word vacation spot. Not solely does the park have a completely operational horse farm, but it surely additionally homes the Smithsonian Worldwide Museum of the Horse. You would simply spend a day visiting this equine treasure in Lexington.
29. Raven Run Nature Sanctuary
This pristinely preserved nature sanctuary in Lexington is the last word nature lover’s paradise. Throughout 734 acres, there are over 10 miles of trails to take pleasure in. Spend a heat summer season afternoon climbing, biking, or picnicking right here. Visiting in fall? The autumn colours in Raven Run Nature Sanctuary are beautiful!
28. Jacobson Park
On 216 acres of land, Jacobson Park contains a big reservoir good for kayaking, paddleboarding, or simply hanging out on the grass close to the shore. The park additionally has volleyball courts, a disc golf course, and extra. Of all of the inexperienced areas in Lexington, this one is among the greatest for a quiet afternoon in nature.
27. Shaker Village of Nice Hill
Simply 45 minutes exterior of Lexington is Shaker Village of Nice Hill. Vacationers from all around the world go to Shaker Village annually to get a glimpse into the previous of a society that was in a position to thrive off the land.The Shakers have been a non secular neighborhood that was energetic in Nice Hill from 1805 to 1910.
This 3,000-acre landmark is among the most well-preserved websites of Shaker historical past. The nonprofit group Shaker Village has labored arduous to keep up the 34 authentic historic constructions, a nature protect, and conserved farmland on the location. You’ll be able to even keep in Shaker Village’s inn!
As the house of 9 well-known bourbon distilleries, Bardstown is considered one of Kentucky’s most notable bourbon locations. Not solely that, however the city additionally has the Bardstown Civil War Museum, the fourth-largest such museum within the nation. It’s also dwelling to Kentucky’s “official outside drama” (“The Stephen Foster Story”) and even has a whole exhibit devoted to girls’s roles within the warfare.
Bardstown has a picturesque city sq. and is general a phenomenal little city to go to. You’ll be able to e book a whole weekend getaway there, full with loads of bourbon-filled experiences, here.
Recognized to have one of the vital lovely capitol buildings within the nation, this small capital metropolis deserves a spot in your Kentucky bucket listing. Situated alongside the Kentucky River between Louisville and Lexington, Frankfort is completely tucked into the inexperienced hills and is surrounded by nature. Right here you’ll discover outdoor adventure, historic relics, and, after all, loads of bourbon.
24. Bowling Inexperienced
As considered one of Kentucky’s many bustling school cities, Bowling Inexperienced has a singular combine of latest and outdated, historic and revolutionary. You’ll discover venerable neighborhoods full with colonial structure and manicured lawns, in addition to a few of Kentucky’s greatest museums. One among them is the National Corvette Museum, which takes guests on a journey by way of the long-lasting historical past of America’s sports activities automotive.
Bowling Inexperienced can also be the right launching level for Mammoth Cave Nationwide Park (extra on that later!), so contemplate staying right here an evening or two throughout your Kentucky journey to profit from this attraction-filled space.
If you’re an American historical past fanatic, you gained’t need to miss out on a go to to Newport. This quaint riverside neighborhood was once set to become what is now Las Vegas. Actually, the city was as soon as dwelling to many casinos and was frequented by none apart from Frank Sinatra, who carried out there. Even Las Vegas’s nickname, “Sin Metropolis,” was first utilized to Newport earlier than it was given to Las Vegas.
Since Newport is so near Cincinnati, Ohio, you may take a sunset cruise to see the Cincinnati skyline from Newport.
This one is for all of the cyclists on the market! London is considered one of Kentucky’s designated “path cities,” due to its entry to street biking, mountain biking, and climbing trails. It’s subsequent to Daniel Boone Nationwide Forest, so nature lovers discover London the perfect place to stay whereas they discover close by parks, trails, and forests.
Referred to as “The Quilt Metropolis,” Paducah is America’s quilt-making capital. Actually, UNESCO dubbed Paducah a Metropolis of Crafts and Folks Artwork in 2013. You’ll be able to find out about this legacy on the National Quilt Museum.
As quickly as you arrive in Paducah, you’ll understand that this small city is something however extraordinary. The customer’s heart is housed in a restored 1860s mansion, which actually units the stage for a historic journey. Benefit from the city’s peace and quiet with a stroll alongside the river and a stroll by way of city to see the historic buildings.
Owensboro is a small metropolis packed stuffed with all of the issues that make Kentucky nice. It has among the state’s greatest barbecue joints, bluegrass music venues, and artwork museums.
Take a look at the Owensboro Museum of Nice Artwork, the place you’ll discover a sculpture park and folks artwork relationship again to the fifteenth century.
Owensboro is legendary for its mutton barbeque, so should you’re a meat eater you shouldn’t depart city with out making an attempt it at both Previous Hickory Bar-B-Que or Ole South Bar-B-Q.
19. Worldwide Bluegrass Music Museum
No journey to Owensboro is full and not using a cease on the Worldwide Bluegrass Music Museum. We’re itemizing this place all by itself as a result of it’s simply one of many high points of interest within the state. Even should you’re new to bluegrass music, this museum is bound to maintain you entertained all day lengthy with its interactive reveals and nuggets of historical past all through. You’ll see a wide range of neat classic devices, be taught concerning the style’s most influential musicians, and see the evolution of the style over time.
Get your tickets here.
That is the last word vacation spot for journey seekers in Kentucky. Stanton is the right launching level for climbing and biking trails, with direct entry to the Purple River Gorge Scenic Byway. The Red River Gorge has over 100 stone arches and several other waterfalls, together with the picturesque Nada Tunnel. It additionally has a singular panorama that’s ready to be explored.
Nationwide Parks, State Parks, and Extra
17. Mammoth Cave Nationwide Park
Mammoth Cave Nationwide Park is among the most beloved locations in Kentucky. This superb pure surprise is dwelling to the longest recorded cave system on the planet, at over 400 miles explored and mapped. Cave tours are a superb option to get accustomed to among the park’s most notable caves.
Not solely is the park adored for its pure magnificence, but it surely additionally holds many tales from the individuals who used to reside there, from the unique settlements of Native Individuals to colonial settlers to the African Individuals who have been a very powerful guides and explorers of the caves within the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.
16. Daniel Boone Nationwide Forest
You might acknowledge the title Daniel Boone should you’re into outdoorsman historical past. This massive forest spans greater than two million acres and presents over 600 miles of trails to discover. Sandstone cliffs are good for mountain climbing, and the abundance of rivers and lakes creates the right setting for individuals who take pleasure in getting out on the water. Though lots of the trails have been initially meant just for climbing, mountain biking is feasible in lots of areas. Backpackers and different campers will benefit from the many forest campgrounds.
15. Cumberland Hole Nationwide Historic Park
The mountainous surroundings at Cumberland Gap National Historical Park is simply one of many many causes to pay a go to. Past the gorgeous views from hidden overlooks, you’ll discover epic sandstone formations, plentiful underground caverns, and loads of plant and animal life in every single place.
There’s a wealth of historical past to uncover right here. This superb nationwide historic park is dwelling to the Hensley Settlement, which supplies guests a time-warping have a look at a twentieth century mountain neighborhood settlement. The Wilderness Street Path will take you on an equally thrilling journey within the footsteps of Native Individuals, early settlers, and Civil Conflict troopers.
14. Land Between the Lakes Nationwide Recreation Space
As one of many largest areas of undeveloped forest in the US, the Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area is about as rugged because it will get. Stretching over 170,000 acres of forests and wetlands, there’s loads of nature to admire right here. There are 300 miles of pure shoreline, providing alternatives to camp, picnic, hike, and bike.
Along with over 500 miles of trails all through the park to take pleasure in, you may go to the Woodlands Nature Station, Elk & Bison Prairie, Homeplace 1850s Working Farm, or Golden Pond Planetarium and Observatory for genuine academic experiences.
Land Between the Lakes can also be the perfect place for a street journey, with unbelievable scenic drives and walks.
13. Cumberland Falls State Resort Park
If you wish to see one thing almost as majestic as Niagara Falls with out leaving the South, be sure so as to add Cumberland Falls State Park to your Kentucky itinerary. It will get its nickname, “the Niagara of the South,” as a result of 68-foot tall and 125-foot broad waterfall. One of many coolest issues about this waterfall, in addition to its immense measurement, is that it’s one of many few locations on the planet the place you may see a moonbow, aka a lunar rainbow. If the sky is evident on the evening of a full moon, you would possibly be capable of see one among of its magnificent glory.
Along with the plain go to to the falls, Cumberland Falls State Resort Park is overflowing with adventurous issues to do (see what I did there?). Go birding within the park, rafting on the Cumberland River, tenting at one of many 50 campsites, or climbing on 17 miles of trails. You’ll be able to even strive your hand at gem mining.
12. Breaks Interstate Park
Situated proper on the Kentucky-Virginia state border is the severely underrated Breaks Interstate Park. Spanning 4,500 acres of greenwood lands stuffed with mountainous surroundings, that is considered one of solely two interstate parks within the nation the place park rangers of each states have authority within the park it doesn’t matter what aspect of the border. This beautiful pure space has the biggest canyon east of the Mississippi River, which spans 5 miles and is 1,650 ft deep, incomes its nickname “the Grand Canyon of the South.”
Breaks Interstate Park is a haven for rock climbers, campers, and hikers alike. Irrespective of the way you select to benefit from the park, you’re actually in for a deal with.
11. Huge South Fork Nationwide River & Recreation Space
Huge South Fork Nationwide River & Recreation Space is also known as an enormous outside playground, and for good purpose. This 125,000-acre recreation space options rugged gorges and pristine forests, together with quite a few streams and, after all, the thunderous Huge South Fork of the Cumberland River.
Outdoor activities at the Big South Fork National River embrace climbing by way of forests and gorges, horseback using, mountain climbing sandstone cliffs, and paddling and swimming in crystal-clear waters. This recreation space can also be a really perfect place to camp and backpack.
10. The Pinnacles of Berea
In 2019, Outside Magazine named the Pinnacles of Berea hike the #1 hike in Kentucky. If that isn’t sufficient to spark your curiosity, guests who take pleasure in peace and quiet love this hike due to its sparse crowds and unbelievable views of the Daniel Boone Nationwide Forest.
This stellar hike is straightforward to get to from Berea, Kentucky, and is even an incredible spot to remain whilst you go to Purple River Gorge and different massive close by points of interest. Having such an superior hike just like the Pinnacles Hike is simply the cherry on high.
9. My Previous Kentucky Dwelling State Park
It is a state park not like every other. You in all probability affiliate state parks with climbing trails and the good open air, however a few of this park’s greatest options are literally indoors. It’s dwelling to the property of US Sen. John Rowan, which holds 200 years of tales, from duels to horse racing to household fortunes and all the things in between. You’ll be able to tour the mansion and listen to guides sing a particular tune on each tour.
8. Solar Valley Horse Farm
This basic horse farm’s slogan is “On the Crossroad of Bourbon & Horses.” It makes a neat connection between horses and bourbon by way of its ties to bourbon pioneer Elijah Pepper. The easiest way to expertise Solar Valley is on a guided tour, which leads company by way of the farm to witness the inside workings of an award-winning thoroughbred horse farm nursery.
7. Hermitage Farm
Hermitage Farm is greater than only a horse farm and nursery. Past operating a famend thoroughbred operation, the farm additionally prides itself on its sustainable and natural agriculture. You’ll be able to even get a style of Heritage Farm’s farm-fresh produce at its Barn8 Farm Restaurant.
Within the temper for some bourbon? You are able to do a bourbon tasting that includes merchandise from any of the distilleries on the Kentucky Bourbon path.
This farm presents a very well-rounded view of Kentucky’s wealthy agricultural tradition and historical past. Select from various tours and tastings at Hermitage Farm to get essentially the most out of your go to.
6. Claiborne Farm
This one is for the historical past buffs on the market. Claiborne Farm is among the most iconic thoroughbred horse farms in Kentucky, greatest identified for being the ultimate resting place of one of the vital well-known horses in historical past, Secretariat.
Claiborne Farm offers historic tours of the on-site services, taking company on a journey by way of the farm’s origin story up till current day with a have a look at how the working farm takes care of the gorgeous beauties that dwell there.
5. The Pete Treehouse
This completely off-grid treehouse was a part of Animal Planet’s Treehouse Masters and is now one of many coolest Airbnbs you’ll discover in Kentucky. Pete Nelson is the mastermind behind the development of the treehouse, which is tucked away in nature about 1.5 hours from Lexington. The place is filled with considerate touches, together with a fireplace pit and balcony.
After watching Kristin’s treehouse adventure, you’re in all probability getting enthusiastic about staying in a treehouse, so don’t miss out on this one once you go to Kentucky!
4. Harland Sanders Café and Museum
These days, you could find a KFC in nearly any nation on the planet. Have you ever questioned about how it began, although? On the Harland Sanders Café and Museum in Corbin, you’ll be capable of see the birthplace of Kentucky Fried Hen at Colonel Sanders’ authentic restaurant.
Not solely are you able to truly dine on the Harland Sanders Café and Museum, however you may then tour the constructing and see every kind of artifacts and memorabilia from the well-known restaurateur’s legacy.
3. Vent Haven Museum
Within the small city of Fort Mitchell is the world’s solely museum devoted to ventriloquism: the Vent Haven Museum. That is by far one of many strangest locations I’ve ever seen whereas researching a vacation spot, and now it has been bumped up fairly excessive on my bucket listing.
The museum has over 900 dummies, that includes some which have been on TV and in films, all from the non-public assortment of William Shakespeare Berger. If you happen to’re a fan of bizarre museums and occur to be driving by way of Fort Mitchell, you’ll positively need to make a pit cease right here.
2. Historic Diamond Caverns
Situated proper subsequent to Mammoth Cave Nationwide Park, this distinctive attraction is a must-visit whilst you’re within the space. Its cathedral-like caverns function cascades of naturally colourful calcite and different mind-blowing formations. Guided tours are available and are the right option to see the beautiful caverns and find out about their fascinating historical past.
1. Kentucky Kingdom
I’m a giant fan of curler coasters, so I can’t skip out on including Kentucky Kingdom to this listing. This theme park could also be small in comparison with megaparks like Six Flags and Disney World, but it surely’s an enthralling homegrown spot that locals adore. There are 5 curler coasters, a 5-D cinema, and loads of different fun attractions to enjoy.
As you may see, Kentucky is filled with quirky surprises and plentiful pure magnificence. There are many superb locations simply ready to be found by vacationers who’re new to the state and likewise by locals seeking to be taught extra about what there’s to do close to them!
Are you a Kentucky native? Which locations did we miss this time? Tell us the place your secret spots are!